For 31-years Chris Hill was the athletic director at the University of Utah—leading the way to a PAC-12 membership for the college. “A legacy is like a nickname,” Hill says, “You can’t give yourself a nickname and you can’t define your own legacy.” Nearly a year after his retirement, his legacy is is beginning
to develop.

Hill’s Career Highlights
1973-74 – Hill begins working at the University of Utah.
1987 – Hill is hired as the athletics director.
1998 – Utah’s men’s basketball team is the runner-up in the NCAA basketball finals.
2004 – Utah football has a 12-0 season and reaches the Fiesta Bowl, beating Pittsburgh in the game.
2008 – Utah football goes to the Sugar Bowl, beating the Crimson Tide and finishing the season with a 13-0 record.
2011 – Utah joins the Pac-12 Conference.
2014 – Utah women’s gymnastics wins the school’s first Pac-12 title.
2015 – The Utah football program shares a Pac=12 division title with USC.
2016 – The Utah baseball team wins the Pac-12 regular-season title.
2017 – The Utah ski team wins the Utes’ 10th NCAA national championship in the Hill era.
2018 – Hill retires.

The New Jersey native and college basketball player for Rutgers moved to Salt Lake in 1973, when he was hired as assistant men’s basketball coach. “You get married because your heart tells you to,” he said, explaining his decision to retire at a press conference in March 2018. “You have children because your heart tells you to… You get in a car and drive across I-80 to Salt Lake City without a job because your heart tells you to.” In 1981 he was named Athletic Director at The U and the rest, as they say, is history.

During his tenure he hired (and sometimes fired), names known all around Utah, and some known around the country—Rick Majerus, Ron McBride, Urban Myer, Kyle Wittingham. He secured the funding for 17 new athletic facilities. He elevated the status of The U, and perhaps by accident, all of Utah.

Sports, though, are about results. And the results of Hill’s work speak for themselves. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has won four conference titles in gymnastics and baseball. Utah football shared the south division championship in 2015. Utah has won 10 NCAA championships in both gymnastics and skiing and combined to finish national runners-up 14 times.

“I gave it my best shot every day, and I got paid twice a month,” Hill said at his retirement press conference. “That’s a square deal.”

These days, Hill is spending time with family, sitting on some boards for charities close to his heart and generally enjoying retirement. It’s a welcome break from the high-stress job he held for years. “I want to take a year to learn that yellow lights mean to slow down, not speed up,” he says. 

He still goes to Utes games and, yes, he gets tickets and “the good parking.” But he goes home when the game ends—he says he hopes to reach a point that the can go home with three minutes left on the clock “just to see how it feels”—and win or lose, he doesn’t think too much about it, saying, “You can leave it there.”  That’s a definite shift from his days on The U payroll. Then, “A loss would really ruin your weekend… and your wife’s,” he says with a sly smile.

Hill’s Career Highlights

  • 1973-74 – Hill begins working at the University of Utah.
  • 1987 – Hill is hired as the athletics director.
  • 1998 – Utah’s men’s basketball team is the runner-up in the NCAA basketball finals.
  • 2004 – Utah football has a 12-0 season and reaches the Fiesta Bowl, beating Pittsburgh in the game.
  • 2008 – Utah football goes to the Sugar Bowl, beating the Crimson Tide and finishing the season with a 13-0 record.
  • 2011 – Utah joins the Pac-12 Conference.
  • 2014 – Utah women’s gymnastics wins the school’s first Pac-12 title.
  • 2015 – The Utah football program shares a Pac=12 division title with USC.
  • 2016 – The Utah baseball team wins the Pac-12 regular-season title.
  • 2017 – The Utah ski team wins the Utes’ 10th NCAA national championship in the Hill era.
  • 2018 – Hill retires.

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